Category Archives: Abuse

Caroline Douglas

You follow a case as it winds its way through the court system.  It seems so simple, so cut and dried that you wonder why so much time, money and hostility is invested in such a petty argument.  Why should it cost hundreds of thousands of hard earned dollars to figure out whether a homeowner in an association can have white roses instead of red ones?  Or whether or not a condo owner is allowed to have a small American flag on his or her front porch or if a family can have a swing set in the backyard for their children?  Why should these even be an issue?  And why would anyone in their right mind care?  And finally, after months of discovery, nasty letters, fines, bullying, isolation and abusive language, dividing up the neighborhood, name calling and other nastiness, the opinion from the judges is handed down deciding the case once and for all.  This is it, this is the end of this road. The wise men and women of the legal system have spoken and you are left with your mouth hanging open, wondering what on earth just happened.  

Caroline Douglas joins us On The Commons.  Caroline has a law degree although she is no longer a practicing attorney.  She has seen the dark side of the legal profession and decided to blow the whistle on what happens “behind the scenes”.  In an 800 page book called “The Dark Side: a law treatise on judging – with memoir”she explains it all and gives us clues to look for so we are not caught off guard.  In a fascinating interview she walks us through what goes on behind the scenes and how and why some of these off the wall decisions are reached.  Caroline has witnessed these irregularities both as a practicing attorney and a litigant caught in this legal “chamber of horrors”. You can reach Caroline at but you won’t want to miss this interview. 

Listen to Caroline Douglas

Share your stories on  In the HOA Trenches


Barry Silver

The dictionary has many definitions for the word “home” but to me home is that safe place we all go to recharge our batteries, be with those we love or enjoy the solitude those 4 walls provide.  It is a place that is uniquely our own.  Houses, apartments, hotel rooms and units can all look alike, but much like fingerprints and snowflakes no two homes are ever exactly alike.  In a world that seems to fear individuality and promotes uniformity, a home has even more importance than ever.
In our brave new world of cookie cutter dwelling units, crammed into modern day  kommunities ,  more often than not the heart and soul of what we once called a community is gone.  In addition to all looking alike and living alike we now also are expected to be alike.  
Joining us On The Commons this week is Barry Silver.  Barry, an attorney who practices in Florida, has spent his career fighting for the rights of individuals, including homeowners in HOAs. Currently Barry is working with several homeowners in a particular association where the owners are being evicted from their own homes.  These owners are paid up, they do not owe any money so it is not a case of “mooching off their neighbors” as proponents of this dysfunctional housing scheme would use as an acceptable reason for this barbaric behavior.  They are, however, elderly so they are vulnerable. Their alleged “crimes”, and the reason they are being evicted are petty, absurd and ridiculous.  We’ll talk to Barry about these homeowners, what they are being targeted for and where they are now. 


Jonathan Friedrich

Jonathan Friedrich

First you scare them, then you promise to protect them and then you own them.  Once that is accomplished, perpetrating the biggest consumer scam is a piece of cake.  Buying a few state legislators’ assistance, creating a very lucrative stream of “free” income for the municipalities, paving the way for developers to increase their profit margins exponentially seals the deal.  And that is how simple it has been to force housing consumers into HOAs where they can be robbed of their homes, their wealth and health and their peace of mind.  The lies that have been repeated over the decades to scare prospective homeowners appear to have become universally accepted truths.  After all, if you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, if must be true, right?  However, the one thing that is true is that non HOA controlled housing is almost nonexistent in most of the country.  So being told that the house you are buying is in a mandatory membership homeowner association is no surprise. 

Jonathan Friedrich joins us On The Commons.  When he retired, Jonathan left New York in search of lower property taxes and moved to Las Vegas, Nevada where he bought a house that needed a lot of work.  He rolled up his sleeves and got to work.  When he bought the house he was given an HOA disclosure package which contained a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions commonly known as CC&Rs.  Jonathan’s concern was getting away from crippling property taxes and not so much HOAs.  His focus was fixing the house he had just bought and making it habitable. He also became involved in his new community.  And that’s when the imperfections of his association and association living in general started rising to the top. He dealt with all the usual insanity that seems to go along with HOAs which not so surprisingly led to the court house.  After 5 long years in court, Jonathan won his case.  But as the saying goes, the devil is in the details and to truly appreciate the win one has to hear the details of his story, in his own words.  The twists, the turns, the lies, the misrepresentations made along the way should alert consumers of what to look for and where to look when buying a house.  There may be more to come as Jonathan is not finished cleaning up the mess. Stay tuned.    

Tell us your stories in your own words 


Jonathan Dessaules

An often cited benefit for residential associations used to be that they allowed the members greater control over their immediate surroundings. The other bonus they were promised was that collectively  they would gain political clout.  At least that was the sales pitch, along with the ever present promise of enhanced property values.  It all sounded wonderful and in a perverse sense sounded sort of logical. But as we have learned over the years not everything works the way it is supposed to.  In fact in the case of residential associations, the opposite is true.  Not only don’t the members have control over their immediate surroundings but have lost sovereignty over their own private spaces.  The existence of an HOA or Condo association is infinitely more intrusive and tyrannical than a neighborhood where the residents are on their own and allegedly have no control.  

Jonathan Dessaules joins us On The Commons. Jon is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona.   As part of his practice   he represents homeowners against their associations.  He is one of a handful of attorneys nationwide who will only represent the owners and not straddle the fence hopping over to the HOA side when they feel like it.  Currently his is in a class of his own in Arizona.  He also has a  blog where he discusses HOA issues and gives general guidance.  It’s a great page to check out for quick guidance on some of the more common issues facing homeowners.  We talk to Jon about all the usual HOA issues common to all American homeowners but we also talk about a long and protracted case that he recently won.  His clients own a unit in an upscale condominium where the fees are in excess of $1,000/month. The condo shut the key card down, impeding access to the private unit and banned the use of the amenities until the owners forfeited  a  right they had.  So much for having greater control of your immediate surroundings in a residential association.  


Mike Gingrich

“Are you crazy?  If people knew what they were buying, they’d never buy a house in an HOA”.  That was the answer I got from a member of the HOA industry when I asked why housing consumers were not told the truth about what buying a house in an HOA entailed.  No more real words were ever spoken.  The road to an HOA or condo controlled dwelling is, by necessity, paved with lies.  So it is back to the good old “Caveat emptor,” or buyer beware philosophy.  That’s all well and good, but until relatively recently, information that is necessary for the consumer or homeowner to be able to ask the right questions or make an educated decision has been scarce. There is a lot of information for associations, and for the people who feed at he HOA trough but precious little for the person who will be funding the contents of that trough. You, the HOA homeowner.

Michael Gingrich joins us On The Commons this week.  Mike has a background in psychology and learned all about HOAs like most of us, up close and personal, he lived in one.  There is something about having to deal with all the problems and issues that are a part of almost every HOA that compels you to do your homework.  Mike was no exception.  In the process of doing his research and meeting others who found themselves in pretty much the same boat, Mike and his colleagues put together a pretty comprehensive web site called HOAs Harm .  Mike talks about the website and explains why they put it together.   You’ll want to check out the website and tune in to the show to get more information. You won’t want to miss it.

Listen to Mike Gingrich

Share your stories on   From the HOA Trenches


Bill Davis


One of the most oft cited benefits of living in the US has always been the right to own property.  Having a roof over one’s head and being able to provide a safe and happy home for one’s family has been referred to as the American Dream.  Imagine, a house in the middle of a yard, surrounded by a lush green lawn, fruit trees, flowers and room to play with the kids, grandkids and pets.  It doesn’t get much better than that! 

So when and how did the dream go so very wrong?  When did it become such a nightmare?  When did the homeowner stop being the architect of his property, the pilot of her own destiny, the author of his or her story?  And when did she or he become the hunted and the target in this insane war in the neighborhood?  What is happening in our residential developments is sounding the death knell for what some believe to have been a greatest experiment in freedom.

Bill Davis joins us On The Commons.  Bill, an attorney in Texas, defends homeowners caught in the middle of the insanity that seems to have become very much part and parcel of “living the American Dream”.  He knows and understands the legal structure of deed restricted developments but more importantly he also knows their limits.  Join us as we discuss some of the torture tactics used to bully a homeowner and the far reaching consequences of the actions of these abuses.  We also hear the incredible facts in one case that highlights what can happen when neighborhood thugs are given unfettered power to browbeat and bully a neighbor.  




Nyla Ridings

Nyla Ridings

I realize that the hardest lessons to learn are the ones we have not experienced personally. I doubt that anyone will make you perceive
that better than our guest on today’s show.

Nyla Ridings joins us On The Commons this week. I Have said this before and will repeat it, I have never had a problem with my HOA, so I have no personal experience with what it is like being targeted. Having grown up overseas, where all I ever heard was how much freer people in the US were, I was horrified by the restrictions HOAs inflict on the owners of homes in the US. How can that possibly be? Never in my entire life had anyone dared to assert the right to decide what color your shades could be. The sheer gall of it! You have all heard the daily atrocities in American housing, so I won’t go into it here but urge you to tune in to On The Commons and listen to Nyla. Hers is a baptism by fire.

All I can tell you is that Nyla had every reason to turn and run as fast as she could when she was shown a house in an HOA. Her father, a builder/developer had warned her to NEVER, EVER buy in an HOA. She did and now understands her father’s advice. She has spent a lot of time trying to warn people who have reached out to her for help once they got caught in their HOA nightmares. Listen to Nila and save yourselves a lot of heartaches. Nyla speaks from personal experience.

Listen to Nyla Ridings


Bill Davis

A good idea doesn’t need a massive support system, nor does it require all sorts of strong-arming to hold it up, but for some reason, HOAs can’t seem to stand on their own. We seem to run into more ways of forcing homeowners into accepting all the intrusive rules from nonowners. Why is that? If the concept of HOAs is so fantastic, wouldn’t you expect it to b able to stand on its own without having to be propped up? I have been baffled for ages, but I am not the only one.

Bill Davis, a Texas attorney who represents homeowners who are having problems with their Texas HOAs, joins us On The Commons. Bill and I have had this conversation online for a long time. Why do we call them Associations? Good question. Words have meaning. The words used to describe associations should reflect what the association is. We also have questions relating to our favorite topic. Do we need legislation propping up restrictions on private property? What has become of the notion that a man’s home is his castle? Are we also throwing the idea of the American dream down to the gutter? Is it time to return private property to private ownership?

Listen to Bill Davis

Rana Kahl

On The Commons

 With my apologies as I am still having issues and problems with Constant Contact.  Maybe 2022 will be the year we can get it fixed.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.  And on that note, I am Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

I would also like to thank Rana for helping me tell this particular story.  It is one I feel that needs to be told.  You will get the details when you listen to us talk.  

Regardless of where your home is it is not safe from abuse.  While we have concentrates primarily on the abuses in Homeowner associations and condominiums, it has been brought to our attention that seniors, in retirements communities are also being subjected to some of the same issues as homeowners in the aforementioned housing situations.  In fact it is even worse in some retirement communities.  

Let me start off by assuring you that I hear from friends and acquaintances in retirement communities who are extremely satisfied and thankful to be where they are.  Sadly not all of them are gems.  I heard from an 83 year old lady recently and her story made me so mad that I had to cover it.  

First of all I can’t think of a single reason to be rude to an elderly person. Manners are sadly lacking and they were non existent in this case.  The lady is question has been a resident of this particular retirement community for a couple of years, all without apparent incident, until recently.  Because of Covid, like many others established mask rules.  And as expected everyone has become an expert of how to properly wear a mask, including the concierge.  

The way I understand the sequence of events, one morning the concierge decided the 83 year old client was not wearing her mask according to the “rules.”  Oh. Don’t you just love those words?  So she followed her and took photos or videos of her.  Of course this entailed invading her private space (you know, inches from her face).  

The 83 year old did what we ALL should have done and would have done, she defended her space.  She had a glass of water in her hand and threw it at the concierge.  World war 3 broke out, the police were called and the Executive Director decided to kick the customer out, she gave her 3 weeks to get out and find somewhere else to live.  But that’s not all, she then told the lady in question to go up to her room and not come out until she leaves.  

This translates to being incarcerated in her room for 3 weeks, she may not go out for meals, be in the common areas, see or talk to anyone. I was absolutely livid when I heard that.  First of all I don’t believe this draconian dingbat has the authority to treat seniors like that and IF she does there needs to be a serious overhaul of the laws. 

Rana Kahl, who also stumbled into this story with me and shares my feelings and ideas, joins us On The Commons this week. Shu has a slightly different thought on it, a very valid one.  I, on the other hand think anyone getting a job involving the elderly need to take etiquette classes, if they were ever taught any manners they forgot it.  I was shocked at just how expensive these retirement communities are.  They are the clients, no client should be treated that way.  As I already said, I don’t believe they all operate that way but we need to be aware of what could happen.  We may have friends and family in one of these places who is treated like a child and punished by being incarcerated in isolation in their room.  Know your rights, DEFEND your rights and don’t let anyone abuse you or anyone else. 


Debbie Goonan

Please note that the wrong promo was sent out with this show. We are publishing the same show to this site as is playing on Fairfax Public Access this Saturday.

This show is dedicated to Donie Vanitzian 1950-2017 who was found dead on December 28, 2017.  For 16 years Donie wrote a weekly column for the LA Times answering questions for homeowners who were caught in a web with their homeowner associations. In addition to her column, she wrote several books on HOAs.  She was a great friend to homeowners who had nowhere else to turn and will be greatly missed.  

Over the years we have watched the people in positions of power in residential America come up with some of the dumbest rules and policies governing private property.   If they couldn’t have such potentially tragic consequences, annual awards for the dumbest of them might make for a great comedy show.  However, judging by the headlines, they don’t need any encouragement.  Probably one of the most insane to hit the news lately is the mind bogglingly stupid rule from Auburn Greens Complex HOA in Auburn, California requiring the owners to leave their garage doors open during the day or face a fine of $200.  This should be a hard sell for proponents of fines and protecting property values.

Deborah Goonan joins us On The Commons.  Deborah blogs on  Independent American Communities  where no HOA story misses her attention.  She is a prolific writer and augments all her posts with additional research and more details thus enriching her posts.  She has become a go-to person for all the latest HOA land.  I asked Deborah to help us do a round up of some of the idiotic rules that seem to be adding to the stress levels of American homeowners. She had a string of such stories lined up within minutes.  We talk about some of them, by no means did we scratch the surface of the sheer insanity that is out there.  You will no doubt agree that Condos and HOAs are a failed concept and beyond repair.